This is the 43rd edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal, the official newsletter of the perennially virid online writing magazine, The New Leaf Journal. As always, this newsletter comes to you from the waterproof keyboard of The Newsletter Leaf Journal, editor of the Nicholas A. Ferrell. In today’s issue, I have six new New Leaf Journal articles, six article recommendations from around the web, one article from our archive, our weekly article rankings, and some news, notes, and anecdotes.
I published five new articles since we mailed the previous newsletter. Later today (July 31), I will publish our month in review post for July. But instead of previewing our next article, this section is for recapping our newly-published content.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 25, 2021.
Let no one say my title is not specific.
I have two physical second-factor authentication keys. These keys work for all websites I have them set up for in the Ungoogled Chromium browser.
I suspected that Google handles 2FA keys differently than other sites. As I discovered with a bit of research, my suspicions were well-founded.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 26, 2021.
My colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, published what he described as Bob Dylan “click bait” on Friday, July 23. In my recap of the piece in The Newsletter Leaf Journal last week, I speciously suggested that Victor did not start his argument from favorable ground, thus violating one of Sun Tzu’s most famous maxims. In this post, with the aid of some wise words from a teacher in high school that included “haha,” I make the case that Victor’s argument, well-reasoned (and provocative to many on Facebook) as it was, was not entirely in accord with Sun Tzu’s wisdom.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 27, 2021.
Like the title like totally sums up what what the article is about, basically. Like yeah. Haha.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 28, 2021.
I published an article about my installing UBports’ Ubuntu Touch operating system on a 2013 Nexus 7 tablet that was shipped with Android in early July. Inspired by my successful Ubuntu Touch installation, I purchased another Nexus 7 and installed LineageOS on it. LineageOS is functionally close to stock Android, but with much of the “Google” removed from it. I was also able to install a new version of LineageOS, allowing the tablet to run apps that it would not have been able to run with its stock Android. The installation was successful, albeit more complicated than the Ubuntu Touch install.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 30, 2021.
I only recently learned that Google offered a service called “Google Bookmarks” in an article about Google announcing that it was shutting down said service on September 30. Moreover, I learned that Google Bookmarks has existed since 2005. The biggest surprise was when I discovered that I had four Google Bookmarks from 2008-2010, despite having never heard of the service. Life is full of surprises. My article discusses one of Google’s less-known long-running services and a recommended alternative that is not being killed by Google on September 30.
Below, you will five six article recommendations from around the web - just in case our five articles from the past week are not enough to hold you over for the weekend.
EFF Press Release. July 27, 2021.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the United States Postal Service for information about its recently-disclosed social media monitoring program. The Press Release contains links to news articles about the program. The key point in the Press Release:
“EFF is also seeking records on the program’s policies and analysis of the information collected, and communications with other federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), about the use of social media content gathered under the program.”
Emphasis added by me. The emphasized part is and should be, the starting question of the inquiry.
Krithika Varagur. July 24, 2021.
“The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism launched a master’s degree in digital social media in 2018 in response to the growing number of jobs in the field, says Daniela Baroffio, who oversees the program. The school aimed to meet executives’ demand for social-media experts who have a handle both on hard skills, like data analytics, and storytelling, she says.”
This will definitely not turn into a student debt horror story in the next decade.
Stef. W. Kight. July 27, 2021.
It has been a while since I included an article relating to the field of my day job here in the newsletter.
“About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have shown up so far, Axios has learned.”
The only surprise here is that 13% is a bit higher than I would have predicted if someone asked me the number before telling me. The men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol, whom I wrote about back in February, are not being put in a position to succeed in their mission.
Neofeed is an interesting project by Ms. Victoria Drake, a web developer. Her project uses Neocities, a freemium and open source platform that allows people to create and host their own static websites for free. Ms. Drake is offering free and open source code on GitHub, with instructions, to create a personal Twitter-like site on Neocities. I am planning to try the project in the near future and write a post on it. If you like the idea of having your own personal microblog on a good platform, you can see her project with the full instructions in the link.
Lauren Goode. July 21, 2021.
Last week, I included an article criticizing Apple, Samsung, and other large companies for deliberately making their products impossible to repair. I cited favorably to one passage in the article describing France’s new product repairability index. This week, I link to an article on the FTC’s endorsing the right to repair. Let us hope this leads to tangible benefits for U.S. consumers.
Ingrid Tsai. June 27, 2021.
My fictional dialogue character, Justin, would be suspicious of this effort to lure people into civil service. While it looks like a well-done ad by the Japanese government, why not just direct people to the late 2000s/early 2010s manga and anime series, Servant x Service. The civil servant comedy did not make my recommended series of 2011-2020, but it was a solid civil servant comedy.
As we bid farewell to July 2021, let us look back at one of our final articles of July 2020.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 25, 2021.
Wherein I made the specious case that if I can learn from my stupid video game mistakes, you too can learn from my mistakes - but only by repeating them, step-by-step. This article reminds me that I want to play through Fire Emblem: Three Houses again. We have covered Pokémon Sword and Shield and Animal Crossing: New Horizons at The New Leaf Journal. Those are terrific games, but Fire Emblem is the finest Switch game in my estimation.
Every week, I list our most-read articles since the previous newsletter. This covers the period beginning with the previous Saturday and ending with Friday. July 24-30 was the 30th such Newsletter Week in 2021. Below, you will find our five most-read articles with information about their change in rank from the previous week, their author, date of publication, and ranking history in 2021.
“Stop Saying Bob Dylan Can’t Sing” (Change +9)
Victor V. Gurbo. July 23, 2021.
Weeks in top five: 1 (1 in first place)
“The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei” (No Change)
Nicholas A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021.
Weeks in top five: 14 (8 in first place)
“Reviewing the HALOmask and är Mask” (Change +3)
Victor V. Gurbo. December 2, 2020.
Weeks in top five: 24 (7 in first place)
“Reviewing Bob Dylan’s “Shadow Kingdom” Stream” (Change -3)
Victor V. Gurbo. July 19, 2021.
Weeks in top five: 2 (1 in first place)
“Installing Ubuntu Touch on an Asus Nexus 7 (2013)” (Change -2)
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 5, 2021.
Weeks in top five: 2
Victor took the top spot for the second week in a row - but this time with his “click bait” Bob Dylan article, which debuts in our Newsletter week rank at #1. Whereas Victor’s Shadow Kingdom review (fourth this week) took the top spot in Newsletter week 29 after being linked to on a Dylan fan site, Victor’s essay about Dylan’s singing talent surged to the top with a strong performance on Facebook.
The other story of the week is Victor’s December mask article. This post led our weekly rankings for 7 newsletter weeks, but had begun to fade in mid-May and posted its weakest month of 2021 in June. The Centers for Disease Control reviewed the situation and were not satisfied. They took steps to remedy the state of affairs and drove Victor’s mask review to its one of its strongest-ever newsletter weeks, surpassing its entire June total in seven days.
My Tsuki ga Kirei post also had a strong week, making it thirteen consecutive weeks in the top two. Finally, my piece on installing Ubuntu Touch on a Nexus 7 rounded out the top five with its second consecutive appearance in the ranking.
Below, you will find news, notes, and anecdotes with suitable leaf puns.
Last week, I suggested that I had some concerns about whether our local font hosting solution would stop working. Fortunately, that did not come to pass.
However, we had an unrelated technical issue. The plugin that I use for series seems to not agree with the latest update to the WordPress core. The series boxes on articles look fine, but the series archive pages are a mess. This is not entirely surprising - the plugin has not been updated in nine months. Unmaintained plugins can eventually become out-of-sync with WordPress updates.
Rather than try to figure out the issue, I plan to surreptitiously switch series plugins (don’t tell anyone). I found one that is consistently maintained (as of now, at least) that looks like it will offer the same functionality. I hope to complete a switch by the next newsletter.
One reason that I persisted in using a BlackBerry with a physical keyboard for the better part of the last decade is because I cannot type on touchscreens. Now that I have a more conventional smartphone, that problem has reared its head. When people text me, I cannot respond when I am on the computer without significantly disrupting my workflow.
I had been using KDE Connect - a program which connects a phone to the computer if it is installed on both the phone and the computer. It worked so-so for texting, but I often experienced connectivity issues. As I noted last week, I changed the desktop environment on my computer from KDE to XFCE. Installing KDE Connect again would have required installing a large number of otherwise unneeded dependencies. Instead of doing that, I decided to try a different solution. (Trying to make everyone who texts me use a Matrix client instead of SMS had only been moderately successful.)
JMP is a service that offers phone numbers that one can connect to an XMPP account. It is currently in beta and offers a number for $15 for five months. Users can also port their regular phone number and add multiple numbers to an account.
I purchased a five-month plan from JMP, set up an XMPP account with a server with good policies, and took on a new phone number specifically for this purpose.
Thus far, the service has worked perfectly. I use the gorgeous Dino XMPP client on my desktop and can now send text messages to phones from the comfort of my keyboard. I blabber.im on my phone and tablet so I can access my messages from there as well.
I do not know if I will keep the service beyond December (there are other ways to accomplish the same thing), but I am impressed thus far.
I have been seeing many baby ducks of late. These baby ducks remind me that I have a series of baby goose pictures that I have yet to turn into New Leaf Journal content. At least I will not be lacking for content in August. With that thought, I ought to work on my series of visual novel reviews (note: I would have linked to the series page of it hadn’t exploded with the last WordPress update). It should be easier to play video games under the guise of doing so for important articles, should it not?
Thank you for joining me for another virid edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. I look forward to reporting back with our first August 2021 newsletter next Saturday.
Cura ut valeas.